Dryer FireHome owners often over look the clothes dryer as a potentially dangerous appliance. Unfortunately, it is the cause of over 20,000 house fires a year and millions of dollars in damages.

Lint is the culprit which causes almost all dryer fires. Each time you put a load of laundry into the dryer a small amount of fabric fibres is released from your clothing producing lint. Lint is highly flammable and builds up in your lint trap, ductwork and vents. Routinely cleaning these areas will highly reduce the risk of a potential dryer fire.

Below are some tips to prevent dryer fires.

Clean the Lint Screen

  • 1) Clean the Lint Filter

The lint trap on your dryer should be cleaned EVERY single load of laundry- not every other load, not once a month but every time you use your dryer. A clogged screen can cause the dryer to overheat potentially causing lint to ignite. Routinely cleaning the lint trap will allow proper airflow, increase efficiency, and help clothes dry faster.

  • 2) Install Proper Ducts

Rigid metal ducts should be used. Accordion metal ducts are easier to install than smooth walled rigid ducts but will reduce airflow are have crevasses that catch lint. If your dryer has a plastic duct it is a good idea to replace it with a metal one. In the event of a fire plastic ducts act as an accelerant, whereas a metal one may contain the fire potentially limiting the damage to your home.

  • Ducts should be fastened together with either metal clamps or aluminum foil tape. Using screws will catch lint and cause build up in the duct. Make sure ducts are not obstructed, crushed or have more curves than necessary.
  • The dryer duct exterior vent cover should be a louvered type without a screen to allow lint that makes it past the trap to be vented to the exterior.
  • 3) Clean the Dryer Ducts Annually:

The dryer ducts should be cleaned once a year if not more. To clean your dryer ducts carefully slide out the dryer (take extra care for gas dryers that you don’t damage the gas line) from wall and disconnect the duct from the back of the dryer. Vacuum both inside the dryer and duct as much as possible. Use a duct brush that can be purchased at any hardware store to thoroughly clean the interior of the ducts. Once you have brushed the ducts several times, reconnect the dryer insuring all connections are fastened and sealed tight. Once dryer is re-connected remove lint trap and run the dryer for one full cycle without any clothes in the dryer. Replace lint trap and use as normal.

There are several warning signs that dangerous lint buildup has occurred in your dryer and venting system, indicating that it needs a thorough cleaning:

  • ·Clothes take longer to dry or don't dry fully
  • ·Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle
  • ·Outside of dryer gets very hot
  • ·Outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very much, indicating low exhaust velocity
  • ·Laundry room becomes more humid than usual
  • ·Burnt smell is evident in the laundry room